At the Crossroads of Media, Culture and Technology

The Role of Mobile in Transmedia Storytelling

Transmedia storytelling and marketing are hot topics for entertainment brands, independent content producers, and product and service brands. As companies explore how to reach through the maelstrom of digital channels and social media to connect with their audiences, they recognize their stories must cross platforms.

The temptation to view mobile as “just another screen” for content delivery is strong. However, mobile is unique: it’s personal, it’s urgent, and for many consumers, it’s on 24/7. How do you earn the right to digital real estate on your audiences’ mobile devices?

To answer this question, let’s consider what three experts in this emerging space have to say about the role of mobile in transmedia content production and distribution.

Jeff Gomez, Starlight Runner Entertainment

Jeff is the CEO of this transmedia pioneer that Fast Company named the #5 most innovate company in media in 2011. He speaks at cross-media events around the world. Jeff was instrumental in getting the transmedia producer credit recognized by the Producers Guild of America and he claims to be working on a transmedia storytelling textbook.

Last month Jeff—with Simon Pullman, the curator of the Transmythology blog—wrote for AdAge about the transmedia campaign for Ridley Scott’s upcoming film, Prometheus. The movie’s TED2023 viral video starring Guy Pierce was the first installment in a truly cross-media campaign that blurs the lines between storytelling and marketing.

Jeff defines an effective transmedia video as follows: “Unlike conventional trailers, which use rapidly cut, repurposed footage and are widely available online along with straight clips, transmedia videos expand the movie’s narrative and encourage fans to immerse themselves more deeply into the story. The advertising becomes part of the movie—with the bonus that it is tailored for mobile devices and sharing across social networks. Brands are even beginning to leverage the power of HTML 5 technologies to create videos with embedded interactive and social features.”

In an article last year for Mobilized TV, Jeff discusses a number of entertainment franchises that successfully incorporated transmedia, including Heroes and Glee.

He cited that Glee “…manifests itself on many platforms including mobile and literally dialoguing with its core fan base. It’s listening to me using the devices I’m familiar with and the devices I want to be reached on. It shows me that it’s listening to me because it integrates how I feel about the show, acknowledges in-jokes the fans have, worldwide. Of course there are an array of apps, official and fan-generated that build on the intimacy that fans feel for the show, and this is all quite lucrative for the Glee producers and for Fox.”

Jeff recently spoke at The Cross-Media Forum 2011 in London, where he discussed this question in depth: how we tell our stories to an audience that is migrating in greater numbers to mobile, social media, videogame and other digital platforms?

Elan Lee, FourthWall Studios

Elan is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of FourthWall Studios. He recently moved to Los Angeles from Seattle—where he lived for twelve years—to build the company’s experiential media production business.

FourthWall has garnered a lot of attention in the last year. In addition to write-ups in Hollywood Reporter, Wired, the L.A. Times, TurnStyle News, and Boing Boing, they received a $200 million funding commitment to launch an “Alternate Reality Entertainment” studio. The company is building two mobile-enabled transmedia platforms for producers: and a mobile augmented reality set-up, “Elseware.”

Mobile devices are uniquely positioned as endpoints for participatory storytelling experiences. Elan describes how the audience can interact with a character in the story using RIDES: “…you watch him walk across the room to make a phone call, and the next moment, the cell phone in your pocket starts ringing. Cause the character is calling you. Characters can send you emails and text messages and social media events and use the elements of your life as part of the storytelling experience.”

FourthWall is launching a web TV show that showcases the capabilities of their new studio and the platform. Check out the trailer for Dirty Work.

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Robert Pratten, Transmedia Storyteller Ltd.

Robert is a UK-based expert who speaks around the world, has co-produced transmedia entertainment titles, and consults for brands interested in transmedia advertising and marketing. His company is developing a transmedia storytelling platform, Conducttr.

Robert advocates designing participative, open storyworlds, integrated marketing and entertainment vehicles that create an ongoing experience that audiences want to engage with. His showcase projects have incorporated product packaging, retail displays, location-based events, video series, print, and social media.

Mobilized TV interviewed Robert last year; the article illustrates a second-screen television viewing experience where mobile is integral to the story.

Robert stated, “The key is to tell multi-platform stories: not repurposing B-roll content (that doesn’t create a compelling enough mobile value proposition) or churning out tedious encyclopedic character detail (let the fans create that) but by writing multi-layered stories with additional sub-plots and parallel plots intended specifically for mobile and to be enjoyed socially either at air time or later on demand.”

Robert spoke at the Rotterdam International Film Festival earlier this year. He presented a new creative and business vision for independent filmmakers, centered in transmedia storytelling and marketing.


Transmedia for Filmmakers

View more presentations from Robert Pratten

Summing it up
Our experts highlight three important roles that mobile can play in transmedia production and distribution:
• Create original, compelling, mobile optimized video that adds to the storyworld and the marketing campaign
• Use mobile as a second screen to enable audiences to participate in the storyworld
• Implement mobile/social feedback mechanisms to establish a dialogue with your audience

Elan Lee recently appeared on UWTV. A quote from his interview with Hanson Hosein is the perfect conclusion to this article: “The only way we’re ever going to figure out what’s going to work and not going to work, is to try everything, and then hold on to the successes.”
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This post is categorized in: Entertainment

About Jeff Barber

Jeff is a UW MCDM student, senior consultant with Slalom Consulting, transmedia storyteller, mobile technology expert, professional writer, and aspiring dome builder. Check out my blog series on the Prometheus transmedia campaign,

3 Responses to The Role of Mobile in Transmedia Storytelling

  1. Pingback: The Role of Mobile in Transmedia Storytelling « Transmedia Camp 101

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  3. Pingback: The Role of Mobile in Transmedia Storytelling – Flip the Media « Rants ‘n Raves by a Nuyorican Who Calls Herself Bennie

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